BHP to strengthen iron ore assets amid price uncertainty

The South Flank site. Image: BHP

BHP has constructed 90 per cent of the South Flank iron ore project in Western Australia, keeping the development on track to start production by mid 2021.

With the support of South Flank in replacing production from the 80 million tonnes a year Yandi mine in Western Australia, BHP expects to achieve a supply chain capacity of 290 million tonnes a year for the medium-term.

BHP shipped 290 million tonnes from its Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) operations last year off the back of its supply chain strength.

The mining major has significantly improved its car dumper productivity and reliability.

“BHP has delivered a strong set of results for the first half of the 2021 financial year,” BHP chief executive Mike Henry said.

“Our continued delivery of reliable operational performance during the half supported record production at (WAIO) and record concentrator throughput at (the) Escondida (copper mine in Chile).”

BHP boosted its underlying earnings by 21 per cent to $14.7 billion ($18.9 billion) during the second half of last year, up from $US12 billion on the prior corresponding period.

This is partly attributed to high iron ore and copper prices, along with the WAIO and Escondida performance.

Data and research provider Fitch Solutions, however, stated that the surge in iron ore prices had “run its course.”

“In our view, prices will likely grind lower during the first half of 2021 as supply improves and demand growth slows,” Fitch stated.

BHP is set to complete its deployment of autonomous haul trucks at the Goonyella Riverside and Daunia coal mines in Queensland early next year.

The company is rolling out 86 autonomous trucks at Goonyella Riverside, the first coal site to implement the equipment.

This development follows 22 autonomous trucks that have been fully deployed at the Newman East iron ore mine in November last year.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.